Here’s some more good news from the Municipal Railway – starting tomorrow (Sunday, July 1), Muni launches an all door boarding policy that should speed up service.

Particularly since the wide spread adoption of the Clipper Card system, many of Muni’s hard pressed drivers have already allowed riders to board from both doors. Now it will become standard policy.

Why does it matter?

Because Muni is now the slowest major transit system in the nation. The average speed for the 100-year-old Municipal Railway is just over 8 miles an hour. Since that average includes the Metro lines, the actual average for the busses and trolleys that make up the backbone of the system is actually about the pace of a very fast walk.  And Muni isn’t just slow, it is expensive to operate and increasingly crowded – with many lines already at what Muni so accurately calls “Crush Capacity.”

All-Door Boarding Cuts Passenger Loading Time

By allowing riders to board at both doors, the time it takes to board and disembark is cut in half – meaning less time spent at stops and more time spent getting us where we want to go.

Speeding up the system also means a less expensive system. The math is pretty simple – it costs over $1 dollar per minute to operate the system when you include all the costs. So if you shave 15 seconds off of every stop, you are starting to see savings with each run. Take the 30 Sutter Stockton line, one of the most congested and slowest in the system. It stops 35 times on a run – a 15-second time savings for each stop means each run could be over 8 minutes faster. That means cost savings if you keep the same number of runs and the capacity to run more frequently for the same price.

While some have noted the challenge of fare evasion, the railway has a plan in place to address the problem. Muni is investing nearly $1 million next year in hiring new fare inspectors to ride the system and keep patrons honest. How much of this new cost will be recouped by tickets for evasion is still unknown, although optimists hope the new inspectors will help put at least a $1 million dent in what Muni has identified as $19 million lost each year through fare evasion. But we do know that at more than a buck a minute to idle at stops, speeding up the system will more than pay for itself.

The Reset community has been pretty hard on the Municipal Railway. That’s why were happy to say “thank you” to all the transportation staff, planners, commissioners and advocates who made this happen.